Ball Aerospace Technician Robin Russell inspects the Webb Telescope Aft Optics Subsystem during mirror integration activities. The Aft Optics bench, made of lightweight beryllium like the mirrors, holds Webb’s tertiary and fine steering mirrors. The installed, gold-coated tertiary mirror can be seen in the background. Credit: Ball Aerospace.

James Webb telescope team completes optical milestone

January 16, 2013

(Phys.org)—Engineers working on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope met another milestone recently with they completed performance testing on the observatory’s aft-optics subsystem at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp’s facilities in Boulder, Colo. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and lightweight mirror system.

“Completing Aft Optics System performance testing is significant because it means all of the telescope’s mirror systems are ready for integration and testing,” said Lee Feinberg, NASA Optical Telescope Element Manager for the James Webb Space Telescope at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Since last May, the AOS has undergone a series of thermal, vibration and cryogenic testing to demonstrate that it can withstand the rigorous vibration environment of the rocket launch and remain precisely aligned in order to function at the extremely cold temperatures in space. The AOS will remain at Ball Aerospace to be used in integrated testing with the flight actuator drive unit and AOS source plate assembly. The AOS is the final optical subsystem in the Webb’s Optical Telescope Element to complete integration and test activities at Ball Aerospace.

Read more: James Webb telescope team completes optical milestone — phys.org.

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